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Zimbabwe women demand for food security as they celebrate International Women’s Day

As the rest of the world celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March 2011, Action Aid International Zimbabwe (AAIZ), a non-governmental organisation which advocates for the rights of the poor and excluded people especially women says many women in Zimbabwe are food insecure because they do not have access to land and farming inputs.

AAIZ is part of the global Action Aid International (AAI) family whose aim is to end poverty worldwide helping over 13 million of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged people in 52 countries.  AAIZ works with local partners to make the most of their knowledge and experience focusing mainly on women’s rights. Women are at the centre of AAI’s support activities because they are the most marginalised group in terms of access to productive assets such as land and social and economic rights.

On Tuesday 8 March 2011 AAIZ together with its food and land rights partners and government departments and other stakeholders,  convened a half day stakeholders' meeting at Cresta Oasis Hotel in Harare to discuss food security in the context of a campaign for a national food policy. The AAIZ partners include FOSNET, Women and Land in Zimbabwe, ZERO and Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement and Ministry of Agriculture as stakeholders.

“With climate change, limited access to land and farming inputs and other means of production and the dollarization of the Zimbabwean economy, it has been noted that food insecurity is on the increase for women in Zimbabwe,” AAIZ Deputy Country Director,  Mr. Philemon Jazi said. The meeting will facilitate a discussion on the issue relating to food security for women and suggest ways in which policymakers can address raised concerns. He also notes that a national food security policy and related policies in agriculture are long overdue.

In Zimbabwe, while women constitute 52% of the total population, they remain underrepresented. “In Zimbabwe, there is limited participation and representation of women in decision making processes at local and national levels.  Only 24 women are senators out of a total senate number of 99 while only 32 women are members of the house assembly out of a total membership of 214.  Women are therefore not prioritised at national level as few women are in decision making positions in Parliament and at local level,” Mr. Jazi said.

While the official worldwide theme for International Women’s Day for 2011 is "Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women", AAIZ and partners theme is “Food Security for Women”.

Worldwide, the International Women’s Day has been celebrated since 1911. It was discrimination against women that brought over one million women and men from socialist movement into the streets for rallies in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on what was originally called International Working Women’s Day on March 19, 1911. The day became popular in Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Soviet bloc, and eventually spread around the globe. In Some regions, it lost its political flavour and became an occasion for men to express their love for women with candy and flowers while in other regions, women’s struggle for human rights and political and social equality remained the focus.

In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating March 8 as International Women’s Day. Two years later the UN. General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a day for women’s rights and international peace. This year, events are being held in many countries to mark the 100th anniversary.